Veteran Archaeologist

Buried in the Patriotic Martyrs Cemetery in Sinmi-ri in the suburbs of Pyongyang is Chae Hui Guk, winner of the Kim Il Sung Prize, a candidate academician, professor and PhD who was born on September 12, 1918 and died on March 15, 1996.

Staff reporter Yu Song interviewed Ri Kwang Hui, department head of the History Faculty of Kim Il Sung University, to talk about Chae.

Yu: I think that Chae systematized the archaeology of the DPRK. I want to know his exploits in unearthing lots of national historical relics.

Ri: Chae studied Korean history in spite of the Japanese imperialists’ oppression during their military rule over Korea (1905-1945). However, he couldn’t avoid the miserable destiny of a colonial intellectual. He was forced to be commandeered to serve the Japanese army for the reason that he studied Korean history.

He began to enjoy the genuine life as a historian since the Fatherland Liberation War (June 1950-July 1953) when he worked as a lecturer at Kim Il Sung University thanks to President Kim Il Sung.

Since then, he devoted his whole life to unearthing historical relics. He participated in the unearthing of historical relics of Koguryo on Mt Taesong, Mausoleum of King Tongmyong and historical relics of Koguryo in its vicinity. He played a pivotal role in renovating the mausoleums of kings Tongmyong, Wang Kon and Tangun. In particular, he achieved notable successes in discovering and studying the mural painting in the Mausoleum of King Tongmyong. For such reason, he was called “grandpa of the Mausoleum of King Tongmyong”.

Yu: He rendered distinguished services in the education of rising generations, I think.

Ri: Right. He taught many disciples during his lifetime. I am his disciple too.

He spent his last days on the bed due to an incurable disease. But he didn’t stop writing historical book and devoted his all to the education of rising generations.

He gave lectures on the bed in the hospital. Not only lecturers but also students came to see him. On these occasions, he gave them lectures on the archaeology. So his bed became another lecturer’s platform.

Whenever his acquaintances advised him to take a rest, he said that he can sleep to his heart’s content after death, but the crime of neglecting education cannot be forgiven even after death. He wrote many textbooks, reference books and papers, especially “King Tongmyong, founder of Koguryo”, “Study on the Mausoleum of King Tongmyong and the historical relics in its vicinity” and “Study on the history of Koguryo”. He produced a dozen doctors.

Chae lives on in the minds of the people as a veteran archaeologist for rendering great services to developing the archaeology of the country.

Yu: Thank you.

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